The rise of a search engine powerful as Google and the digital era forced all sorts of entities to investigate what is search engine optimization (SEO) and the role it plays in their business.
My experience has been that search engine optimization is poorly understood. Moreover, it’s something that everybody is slightly scared of, especially people from a non-technical background.
That’s why in this article, I’m going to prove to you that SEO is not that complicated. First, I will make sure you understand what SEO is exactly.
Then we will discuss a few strategies that you can quickly implement depending on your business, brand, or organization.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
SEO is one of the cores of digital marketing skills. It brings organic traffic to your site which is the exact opposite of inorganic traffic brought by digital advertising. It’s all about sending search engines right signals so that they rank you higher.
We are going to optimize our site and a few outside factors, so we rank higher in our target audience’s search terms.
Well, let’s change “rank higher,” and with an SEO project, we want to rank in the first page results eventually. I will let you know why I say the first page results in a bit.
If we are going to optimize things for a search engine, we should understand how a search engine works. Let’s do that without getting overwhelmed.
Crawl, index, and rank
When you put out new content on your websites such as a landing page or a blog post or you update current content, search engines first crawl that piece of content.
That means, a bot or a spider, comes to that page and goes through it. If you have a sitemap, they also check your sitemap since sitemaps are explicitly designed for this purpose.
How often these bots crawl your content? It depends on a few factors. The most important is that how often you put out new content.
I believe they keep an average new content publish ratio, and depending on your site’s average, come and visit your website.
For the search engines, this is a cost. Try to keep this in mind because if you try to help them save costs, they are going to reward you for that.
What I mean by that is, if your site is technically well built, you are going to outperform others just because the search engines are going to favor your website over others.
Keeping your website nice and tidy for the search engines favor can be called technical SEO. This is an underestimated topic.
Web developers today still are not well aware of the technical SEO factors. Similarly, the subject is often a little too technical for digital marketing people.
If you ever used SEO tools and set up a site audit, you will see that your site health is around %50. From there, you will check for your competitors and realize that it’s not so different for them either.
I will put together whole another article about technical SEO soon, so let’s continue with indexing for now.
After a search engine crawls (sees) your page or sites, the next stage is the indexing.
You can make a request for indexing from the Google Search Console, Google will run a few necessary tests, and if you pass, your page will go to the priority indexing queue.
Even if you don’t request indexing, search engines will come and index your pages. To see whether your page is indexed or not, copy your URL and paste it as a search query.
If you see the URL in search results, that means your page is indexed. Indexing is like the search engine adding your content to its database.
It doesn’t mean that it’s ranked though, type a long tail keyword and test if your page shows up. That’s how you know if your page is ranked.
When a search engine finally ranks your page, it means that your content is placed somewhere in the search results depending on the search engines’ algorithm.
In theory, a search engine ranking happens when someone is searching for a term. But in practice, ranking is like a never-ending process.
That’s because there are many variables to ranking, and these variables continuously change.
Let’s wrap up now. Search engines work on the background to crawl sites all over the internet. They index the pages which meet the requirements and rank the ones higher if they provide the most accurate information for a search query.
Not that complicated, right?
So now that we know how the search engines work, what is SEO all about?
On-Page & Off-Page SEO
The aim of SEO (search engine optimization) is to rank well and eventually sit on the first page of the search engine results page so-called SERP.
There are two types of SEO; on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO is rather simple since it’s done on your website. This has something to do with evaluating URL structures, categories, tags, titles, page descriptions, H1,H2,H3 headings, and so on.
On the other hand, off-page SEO, as the name suggests done outside your website to increase trust, authority, and relevance also popularity. When there are good referrals to your site, your rankings dramatically increase.
SEO and Website Traffic
The first page results will get around %75 percent of the traffic for a given keyword, and that can mean free and valuable traffic for your website.
But what do I mean by the traffic from a keyword?
Each keyword has a monthly search volume. That monthly search volume changes in different countries.
Usually shorter the keyword, the more generic the term gets, and the monthly volume increases. Let’s explain this with an example.
Let’s take keyword SEO and check the search volume in the United Kingdom. So the search volume for the exact word “SEO” keyword for the U.K is 40 500 monthly.
Let’s check the longer terms that have the word SEO, such as SEO services. This has a monthly search volume of 4 400.
Another keyword, “what is SEO,” the search volume seems to be 4 400 as well. As you can see, the longer the keyword, the search volume is lower.
Now that we know about the search volumes and rankings. Let’s tie SEO and website traffic. This article you are reading is on-page optimized for the word “what is SEO.”
You can see the keyword in the URL, in the H1, SEO title, and so on. Let’s assume that I wrote the best article ever in this subject (I will teach you that also), and the content piece got great referrals from relevant sector leaders so-called backlinks.
Google would start to increase my rankings, and eventually, I should be able to reach the first page and hopefully become number one in the U.K for the keyword “what is SEO.”
Since the monthly volume of that keyword is 4400, and statistically, the first ranking gets around %33 of the traffic, so I would end up getting about 1450 visits to my website monthly from this keyword alone.
Why do SEO?
I believe the example above explains very well why we should do SEO. We do SEO to rank for our best keywords, get relevant and organic website traffic, and last to increase our brand’s visibility.
If your website is well optimized and well-referred, especially for your brand keywords, you will guarantee your spot in SERP number 1.
This is very important since brand keywords would bring you the best quality traffic since the searcher intends to land onto your site after initiating the search.
I don’t usually have many tech-savvy people around me. When I try to explain what SEO does, I started to use two terms: impressions and visibility.
Because when I measure SEO efforts, one of the metrics I look at is the impressions in Google’s Search Console. Similarly, I use keyword tracking campaigns in SEO tools, and they often show you a search visibility rate.
From this perspective, we can say that we do SEO to increase our visibility on the internet by getting more impressions on the search engines.
SEO Work Examples
I want to list a few of the SEO routine work in random order. I do this so you can put all the theory and practice together in your mind.
This, I think, is the best way to understand what is SEO and why we do it.
- On-page optimizing most important landing pages,
- Getting rid off duplicate pages in your site,
- Optimizing your pages SEO titles to increase click rates,
- Creating landing pages for each of your offers,
- Reaching out to different website owners or bloggers for backlinks,
- Writing a blog, create a youtube video or an infographic.
- Submitting your site to a few known business listings,
- Finding relevant topics and discussions in your niche and comment,
- Share your web content on social media.
These are a few examples of white-hat SEO. That means, doing SEO within the safe zone.
There are also black-hat SEO techniques that are in simple terms search engine manipulation rather than optimization.
These methods are not advised, and you can’t rank high in the long run if you apply them.
There is also negative SEO, usually a technique that your competitors can use to outrank you. That often includes buying spammy backlinks and directing them to a target website.
Hopefully, if you are caring for SEO, you can spot these and disavow these backlinks.
SEO brings free traffic, but it doesn’t mean you can do it entirely for free. When you get serious about SEO, you need experts in-house or freelancers to run your SEO campaigns and increase your website’s rankings.
Depending on your organization and your budget, you can run the show differently. SEO has high ROI, but you need to be patient to see the results.
I will highlight a small budget SEO approach here so you can make the comparison and have an idea of the cost aspect of the SEO projects.
Small Budget Strategies
So in the first scenario, we have got a relatively small budget up to 1000 USD / month and one person-in-charge. What can be done in terms of SEO?
If you are expecting me to be pessimist, you are wrong because I love working with small budgets.
I’m well aware that 1000 USD / month is not a low budget for some of us because USD is a strong currency, and we don’t all live in the U.S or Europe. Anyways, let’s carry on and see what we can do with this SEO budget.
These tools can track keyword rankings and your backlinks, check competitor backlinks, run technical audits, and so on.
SEO Tool Budget: 100 USD / month
Secondly, you should spare some money for the technical SEO audit and campaign, which includes on-page SEO.
Most of the time, this won’t be a recurring fee but rather a one-time fixed rate at around 100-200 USD. The more pages and a larger website would require a greater budget.
Technical / On-Page SEO Budget: 100-200 one time fee
Thirdly, you should start a blog content creation routine. For each language, aim for at least one or two articles per week.
Fiverr is a great source for blog article gigs. However, you are going to have to test quite a few writers and find the one.
Costs vary depending on the language, word count, and writer. The most important factor for the articles is uniqueness.
Take this article you are reading. This is %100 percent unique, and I haven’t even looked at a website when writing it.
I wrote it entirely based on my professional experience. For a search engine, in terms of content, uniqueness is the number one factor.
Unique articles rank well, not necessarily the longest ones or perfectly SEO optimized articles. This sort of articles can’t be five bucks for 500 words, that’s for sure.
They are going to be quite expensive because they require hours of labor.
Blog Budget: 100 USD / 1000 words article Total: 800 USD / month
Last, you need good internet references. When other websites link to your site, that’s a strong ranking signal for search engines, so you should focus on acquiring high quality, niche relevant backlinks.
The best way to get backlinks is that searching the internet for your brand mentions and niche relevant keywords.
By doing this kind of research, you can discover backlink opportunities, start a reach-out campaign, and earn new links.
There is also the guest posting that I think is quite a white hat SEO method.
Guest Posting Budget: 100 USD / month